How to Teach a Computer Novice

June 1999
by Reid Goldsborough

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Let’s face it. Using a computer can be difficult.Despite the advent of graphical point-and-click software, plug-and-play peripherals, and new PCs and Macs that come in an array of friendly colors, computers and the programs that run on them can still be tough to learn.You may well be a computer cognoscente who feels right at home in the rarified world of arcane acronyms and persnickety procedures, but if you’ve ever tried to teach an anxious computer novice, you undoubtedly understand how formidable personal computers can be. Fortunately there are tricks you can use when training someone who’s sweating over a keyboard and mouse. What’s Their Level?The most important factor to consider is the trainee’s experience level, says Debbi Handler, chair of the Independent Computer Consultants Association and owner of the computer training and consulting firm, Data Access Solutions in Sausalito, California.As you try to determine the current level of the person’s skills, don’t necessarily take what he or she says at face value. Often people say that they’re more advanced than they are or that they’re beginners when they have some experience. To better gauge skill level, observe users in action, listen to their questions, and watch their facial expressions to make sure you haven’t lost them.Other Training TipsHere are some other things to keep in mind when you’re helping someone get up to speed with a computer:When providing instructions, use language that trainees willIBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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